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Lost Jacksonville: Union Terminal

While the building may still be in use as a convention center, the sights, sounds, scenes and activities from its days as the South's largest rail terminal are long gone. Today, Metro Jacksonville shares images from an vibrant era that no longer exists.

Published January 8, 2010 in History      102 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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When completed in 1919, the Jacksonville Terminal was the largest railroad station in the South.


An aerial of the terminal and Railroad Row district during the 1920s.


Looking east down Bay Street, just outside the terminal, in 1921.



During it's heyday, the terminal handled as many as 142 trains and 20,000 passengers a day.  



The concourse in 1921.




The black waiting room in 1921.

The black waiting room always had a more detailed ceiling, similar to the Texas Pacific Station (still in use) in Fort Worth. If more was ever done on the great arched ceiling in the main waiting room, it was before 1950 and by this time was history.



The main waiting room in 1921.

The interior features a 75-foot barrel vaulted ceiling above the main waiting room, giving a tremendous sense of space to the traveler.


Thomas Edison coming into Jacksonville.



Bay Street in 1921.  The streetcar connected the terminal with the rest of the city. This scene is historically significant for several reasons, the infamous Jacksonville Big Cat Story took place here, also 2 different models of streetcars are visible in one photo. The foreground contains a "Birney Safety Car - 8 wheel version," and the background contains what appears "to be Brill Semi-Convertible Car" (IE: The front windows were removable for summer and fair weather).


The terminal's yard in the 1920s. Somebody's bound to be wondering about that road that crossed all those tracks... Relax folks, it was for Terminal baggage trains and not public use, it was way out near Myrtle Avenue because many of the trains handled in Jacksonville were 18-22 cars long!



A scene from 1926.  Scene of the Big Cat, right across the street through the 1980's were some of the coolest pawn shops in town. About 6 years after the Terminal Closed a rail nut friend strolled across to take photos, and sitting in the window was a locomotive. Not just any locomotive but a large scale, RIDE in type, he bought it for $100.00!

Even at this early date, parking was a major problem, one that the Terminal never was able to solve. Note that in this photo is one of Jacksonville's other unique streetcars, completely different then the other two in the first photos. This is a Stone and Webster Turtleback Car, bigger then any JTA bus and very comfortable. Large rail cars tend to "float" over the track, and a ride on the Turtleback is no different. There may be surviving cars scattered around the city, as they were stripped of their wheels and sold for sheds, chicken coops and "Florida Rooms."




A scene from 1939.  (Feb 2, 1939) top/ FEC Flagler bottom.
Not just 1939 but Feb 2, 1939 and the Jacksonville public is getting their first look at a new technology, the Diesel Streamliner. In this scene the Seaboard Air Line debuts the Silver Meteor with lightweight stainless steel cars. This train replaced the old Pullman green "Orange Blossom Special."  The Meteor is one of just 2 surviving trains to Florida under Amtrak. Oh and speaking of Amtrak, the old station handled more passengers in 3 days then Amtrak does in a year.

Just below the Meteor photo is a picture of the Florida East Coast's "pocket streamliner," The Henry M. Flagler. This train is also showing off to the public as there is NO WAY the FEC trains would ever have been hosted here on track 2-4 unless they backed all the way to Miami. The Flagler was FEC'S contribution to a family of new trains, The South Wind, The City of Miami, Dixie Flagler, each with a unique route to Chicago. The first run was December 19, 1940.


Jacksonville was a major railroad center for over fifty years, and the monumentality of this building celebrated the corporate pride and power of the Florida railway systems founded by Henry Flagler and Henry B. Plant.  






Franklin D. Roosevelt coming into Jacksonville in 1943




Looking over Union Terminal, Brooklyn and Downtown Jacksonville in 1946.


The front of the terminal and the Lee Street Viaduct in 1946.  Note how the original "LEE STREET viaduct" got up and over the tracks reaching the critical elevation at a point equal to the south wall of the station. The COJ'S great idea for a new misnamed viaduct (losing both the bronze marker and the name of the viaduct, JTA reconstructed it as the "Park Street Viaduct," which is historically incorrect), for the visual effect of a view down water street, has now become a critical road block to reopening the old station. Note also parking was still a problem in 1946. A sharp eye will detect the row of taxi's parked in front of the columns, and the semi truck delivering another load of goodies to one of the best restaurants in the city.

New York architect Kenneth M. Murchison won the competition...
Again note the parking and the taxi's. The other plan was drawn by klutho and involved a station over the tracks, it featured through tracks, and a location closer to the Riverside Viaduct. It's downfall IMO was too few tracks, and the under the station concourses would have been filthy and choked with smoke, no amount of venting is going to kill the fly ash from those steam locomotives, or the foul smell of oil burners, or toxic gas of diesels.




New York architect Kenneth M. Murchison won the competition for designing the terminal by borrowing freely from the design of New York's Pennsylvania Station,  which in turn had been modeled after the ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla.


The Park Street? Viaduct in 1947? So says JTA. Correction: "THE LEE STREET VIADUCT," (So said the plaque for 60+ years) "Built so that the people of Jacksonville may pass..."  The christening of the brand new Diesels, note the bottle in her hand and the executives that dutifully stayed out of the photo! To the far right one can see the platforms of two railroad private cars, on the private car tracks next to the building. To the far left, barely visible, is a baggage car off of the FEC trains.


A scene from 1948. The crew is probably at lunch, the lack of shadows puts this as a midday scene. Midday was always the calm before the storm, the storms coming at morning and evening. The engine is positioned to handle the next train sections from south Florida to be joined into one train. To the far left some baggage cars on the express tracks, and the far right more baggage cars ready to leave. A photo testament of Jacksonville's position as the worlds largest railroad express station.


A scene from 1960.  To the far left the "white" (actually a mist green) face of a Seaboard engine with what is probably the Gulf Wind being readied for evening departure for New Orleans. On the far right two sections of a train being combined, based on where they sit, one is off of the Florida East Coast, from Miami, and the other off of the Atlantic Coast Line, from Tampa.


The last passenger train to run on the FEC in 1968, arrives in Jacksonville from Miami in the early evening. Conductor Fields secured the doors and walked away into retirement, tears running down his cheeks. On the FEC even to that last day, the little train sported a First Class, Tavern - lounge - Observation car... "The St. Lucie Sound," today the car survives in a museum and so does it's last passenger, who BTW took that photo.

On January 3, 1974, the last passenger train rolled out of the Jacksonville Terminal, which had fallen victim to high modern maintenance costs and decreased rail travel.








Restoration was begun in 1985 to convert the terminal into the Prime Osborn Convention Center. Looking East down track 15-16 M/L, which ended at the terminal, more exactly they ended in front of The Terminal Restaurant. If you could have walked straight down this sight line, you would have found yourself in the dining room. Incredible as it seems the place was packed with Jacksonville business men, travelers and railroaders, up until the day it closed, and Denny's thinks THEY know how to make a grand slam... Denny's meet god!



The terminal shortly after the completion of the convention center project in 1987.



The Terminal Today

Although the grand station remains, the scene today is a morbid one.




The tomb of the last remaining passenger rail car on site. This scene is double sad to a railroad historian, Seaboard Coast Line never operated the "Orange Blossom Special" passenger train, and where they have a train name painted, would have been the name of the car. In this case a First Class Sleeper Lounge. The railroad name should read Seaboard Air Line.


Unlike the 1921 images, the old concourse often sits empty these days.  On this particular weekend, the entire complex was sealed shut.







No one is purchasing tickets in 2010.




The remains of Railroad Row.




The Prime Osborn's exhibition hall has replaced the old terminal's platforms. This "concourse" and perhaps a 100' extension of the adjacent exhibit building, is all that is worth saving of the 1980's convention center additions, according to our own Metro-Jacksonville Transportation Center redesign.

The photo just above the concourse shot is of that infamous corner again, those that have not heard the Big Jax Cat story, hang on to your seats.

This part of the terminal was a broad passage open to the street, it also was in the part of the concourse (North end) near track 1-5 where all of the express and baggage was sorted. Bags often were stacked just inside this area as it afforded a large open space to work through the sorting during heavy volume days. Theft from Bay Street became chronic, and finally, so frequent, that the "baggage-smashers" could almost predict the arrival of a particular group of thugs. This carload of thieves would race out Bay Street, screech to a stop in front of this passage way, they'd jump out toss 1 or 2 big bags in their 1950's era auto, then stomp it and make their getaway. They were just irregular enough that they threw the police off, they had no luck in catching them in several stakeouts. Finally, an old train Conductor who lived in Hilliard, or Callahan, came in beaming one day with a big deluxe suitcase. He told the boys he used a live trap and caught, "That damn bobcat that had been raiding my chickens." This was a classic case, "THE CAT WAS IN THE BAG!" Literally!

The story goes that almost as soon as the Terminal Employees sat that bag near the sidewalk, the gangsters came around the corner, speeding to a stop. The "kitty bag," was snatched, and the car took off westbound. They got down to about Cleveland Street, about where I-95 is today, when the car suddenly lurched off the road and smashed into a telephone pole... The whole Terminal Company was standing out on Bay Street to watch the show, and some show it must have been. Elbows, heels, teeth and fur, mixed with claws, screams, and sheer terror! To hear the railroaders tell it those boys are still running to this day! The thefts stopped.




Converting the old terminal into a convention center was a brilliant idea to save an empty building that most likely would have been demolished. However, the possibility of this site being used as a viable convention center has come to an end.

It is time for the City of Jacksonville to address the convention center's future and convert the terminal back into its original intended use; Jacksonville Terminal.

Article by Ennis Davis
Caption History Additions by Robert Mann







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102 Comments

CS Foltz

January 08, 2010, 06:57:54 AM
Hear.....Hear! I agree, it should go back to what it was..........A TRAIN STATION! Build a new Convention in an area that could use it.............like the Ship Yards! We own the property, so it would just be a question of getting something designed to do the job. Sell Bonds to fund the thing and lets do it!

aaapolito

January 08, 2010, 07:17:59 AM
It's such a beautiful building.  No one can really build like that anymore.

BridgeTroll

January 08, 2010, 07:42:21 AM
The conversion from Convention center to train station should begin as soon as possible.

James

January 08, 2010, 07:56:34 AM
Looks like a beautiful building, is it just the location that prevents it from being better utilized?  Seems like its got all the bells and whistles...

hightowerlover

January 08, 2010, 09:41:05 AM
all those old pictures with everyone wearing a hat makes me wonder why hats fell out of fashion

Lucasjj

January 08, 2010, 09:55:11 AM
The story I have always heard is when JFK was inaugurated he did not wear a hat, and that made hats optional. Eventually people just discarded them as a formal item.

Wacca Pilatka

January 08, 2010, 10:23:00 AM
Klutho strongly disliked the way the terminal was designed.  He had proposed an alternate setup whereby the terminal would be elevated above street level and the tracks, to separate foot traffic from road traffic.  The elevated setup also would have allowed passengers to exit the terminal with a direct view of downtown Jacksonville rather than walking directly into a less attractive vista of warehouses.

thelakelander

January 08, 2010, 10:45:57 AM
Ock claims that Klutho's alternative design would have been a logistical nightmare.  I'm sure he'll explain when he gets the chance.

JaxNative68

January 08, 2010, 11:07:24 AM
I remember taking a train from there as a very young child and being awe struck with the building.  To see the concourse bastardized for the connection of the convention center to the main waiting room/front entry sickened me.  Not that it couldn't be restored, but it would make the restoration more expensive and tedious.

Maybe the addition of a progressively designed train shed and passenger loading zones could be the answer.  The dichotomy could be very interesting.

CS Foltz

January 08, 2010, 11:15:57 AM
Gentlemen..........boy oh boy do I ever agree! Thank the GOB Network for bolluxing things up. From what I have been told............two factions of the GOB Network duked it out over the conversion, only thing that came out of it was what we have now............neither one or the other! Make the Prime a train station and build a Convention Center more oriented to what hotels we have downtown!

Overstreet

January 08, 2010, 11:18:55 AM
You know that's all nice. But I was there recently in tux for an annual event. I was at a gun show there a little longer ago. A boat show a little longer than that.  But it was seven or eight years ago when any of my relatives took the train to Jacksonville.  Then a youngster she was  filling a square to say she'd done it. She has driven a car here ever since.

Y'all just wishing for this or is the current train depot over used?

CS Foltz

January 08, 2010, 11:39:23 AM
Overstreet...........current "Amshack" is small and out of the way! Any train station needs to be in a location that everyone can get to, accessable for all and something that stands out from the rest of bldgs! Not asking for the moon, but Union Station was the one when rail ruled and it has not been that long ago! All most people are asking for is......the Prime for what it was designed to be used for not some half baked idea of a Convention Center that is not used year round and is supposed to be a calling card for more Conventions! If we had something that was designed from the ground for just that purpose, it would make our City the one to have that kind of gala event at............right now, even Daytona Beach has more pull plus more area for use! You can't make a chicken into a racing pigion!

Wacca Pilatka

January 08, 2010, 11:46:51 AM
Gentlemen..........boy oh boy do I ever agree! Thank the GOB Network for bolluxing things up. From what I have been told............two factions of the GOB Network duked it out over the conversion, only thing that came out of it was what we have now............neither one or the other! Make the Prime a train station and build a Convention Center more oriented to what hotels we have downtown!

According to Jim Crooks' book on the post-consolidation history of Jacksonville, the initial plan was for a convention center on the former Sears store site, near AT&T, Wachovia, and the Omni.  The theory, of course, being clustering and maximum impact for the rest of downtown.  The Landing was at least a twinkle in the eyes of the Godbold administration, though plans were not announced yet, and obviously would have been nearby; the Robert Meyer was still open as a Holiday Inn, and Preston Haskell supported the centralized convention center; so did the managers of the remaining department stores.

There was some concern that the site was too small, but then came the big push to save the train station.  The DDA split on the issue and so did the city council.  Godbold advocated the current site out of sentimentality for the station and the expectation that the business district would expand westward.  He tried to assuage those who were most passionate about the central site with his support for the Florida Theatre, obtaining a festival marketplace, Metropolitan Park development, etc., not that I doubt Godbold would have supported those things anyway.

Upon selection of the current site, I understand there was a mass resignation from the DDA in protest, and Crooks states that it was the absolute death knell for the Robert Meyer/Holiday Inn, as well as the beginning of the end for May Cohen's.

tufsu1

January 08, 2010, 11:50:24 AM
Gentlemen..........boy oh boy do I ever agree! Thank the GOB Network for bolluxing things up. From what I have been told............two factions of the GOB Network duked it out over the conversion, only thing that came out of it was what we have now............neither one or the other! Make the Prime a train station and build a Convention Center more oriented to what hotels we have downtown!

that darn GOB network...without them, it would never have been converted....instead it would likely have been torn down!

finehoe

January 08, 2010, 12:21:01 PM
"New York architect Kenneth M. Murchison won the competition for designing the terminal by borrowing freely from the design of New York's Pennsylvania Station"

Take a look:  http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16934

Ocklawaha

January 08, 2010, 12:39:51 PM
The black waiting room in 1921.
The black waiting room always had a more detailed ceiling, similar to the Texas Pacific Station (still in use) in Fort Worth. If more was ever done on the great arched ceiling in the main waiting room, it was before 1950 and by this time was history.

Bay Street in 1921.  The streetcar connected the terminal with the rest of the city.
This scene is historically significant for several reasons, the infamous Jacksonville Big Cat Story took place here, also 2 different models of streetcars are visible in one photo. The foreground contains a "Birney Safety Car - 8 wheel version," and the background contains what appears "to be Brill Semi-Convertible Car" (IE: The front windows were removable for summer and fair weather).

The terminal's yard in the 1920s.
Somebody's bound to be wondering about that road that crossed all those tracks... Relax folks, it was for Terminal baggage trains and not public use, it was way out near Myrtle Avenue because many of the trains handled in Jacksonville were 18-22 cars long!

A scene from 1926.  Bay Street in 1921.  The streetcar connected the terminal with the rest of the city.
Scene of the Big Cat, right across the street through the 1980's were some of the coolest pawn shops in town. About 6 years after the Terminal Closed a rail nut friend strolled across to take photos, and sitting in the window was a locomotive. Not just any locomotive but a large scale, RIDE in type, he bought it for $100.00!

A scene from 1926.
Even at this early date, parking was a major problem, one that the Terminal never was able to solve. Note that in this photo is one of Jacksonville's other unique streetcars, completely different then the other two in the first photos. This is a Stone and Webster Turtleback Car, bigger then any JTA bus and very comfortable. Large rail cars tend to "float" over the track, and a ride on the Turtleback is no different. There may be surviving cars scattered around the city, as they were stripped of their wheels and sold for sheds, chicken coops and "Florida Rooms."

A scene from 1939. (Feb 2, 1939) top/ FEC Flagler bottom.
Not just 1939 but Feb 2, 1939 and the Jacksonville public is getting their first look at a new technology, the Diesel Streamliner. In this scene the Seaboard Air Line debuts the Silver Meteor with lightweight stainless steel cars. This train replaced the old Pullman green "Orange Blossom Special."  The Meteor is one of just 2 surviving trains to Florida under Amtrak. Oh and speaking of Amtrak, the old station handled more passengers in 3 days then Amtrak does in a year.

Just below the Meteor photo is a picture of the Florida East Coast's "pocket streamliner," The Henry M. Flagler. This train is also showing off to the public as there is NO WAY the FEC trains would ever have been hosted here on track 2-4 unless they backed all the way to Miami. The Flagler was FEC'S contribution to a family of new trains, The South Wind, The City of Miami, Dixie Flagler, each with a unique route to Chicago. The first run was December 19, 1940.

The front of the terminal and the Park Street Viaduct in 1946.
Note how the original "LEE STREET viaduct" got up and over the tracks reaching the critical elevation at a point equal to the south wall of the station. The COJ'S great idea for a new misnamed viaduct, for the visual effect of a view down water street, has now become a critical road block to reopening the old station. Note also parking was still a problem in 1946. A sharp eye will detect the row of taxi's parked in front of the columns, and the semi truck delivering another load of goodies to one of the best restaurants in the city.

New York architect Kenneth M. Murchison won the competition...
Again note the parking and the taxi's. The other plan was drawn by klutho and involved a station over the tracks, it featured through tracks, and a location closer to the Riverside Viaduct. It's downfall IMO was too few tracks, and the under the station concourses would have been filthy and choked with smoke, no amount of venting is going to kill the fly ash from those steam locomotives, or the foul smell of oil burners, or toxic gas of diesels.

The Park Street Viaduct in 1947.
Correction: THE LEE STREET VIADUCT (So said the plaque for 60+ years) "Built so that the people of Jacksonville may pass..."  The christening of the brand new Diesels, note the bottle in her hand and the executives that dutifully stayed out of the photo! To the far right one can see the platforms of two railroad private cars, on the private car tracks next to the building. To the far left, barely visible, is a baggage car off of the FEC trains.

A scene from 1948.
The crew is probably at lunch, the lack of shadows puts this as a midday scene. Midday was always the calm before the storm, the storms coming at morning and evening. The engine is positioned to handle the next train sections from south Florida to be joined into one train. To the far left some baggage cars on the express tracks, and the far right more baggage cars ready to leave. A photo testament of Jacksonville's position as the worlds largest railroad express station.

A scene from 1960.
To the far left the "white" (actually a mist green) face of a Seaboard engine with what is probably the Gulf Wind being readied for evening departure for New Orleans. On the far right two sections of a train being combined, based on where they sit, one is off of the Florida East Coast, from Miami, and the other off of the Atlantic Coast Line, from Tampa.

One of the last passenger trains to run on the FEC in 1968.
Correction, this is the LAST RUN of a regular scheduled passenger train on the Florida East Coast, even to that last day the little train sported a First Class, Tavern lounge Observation car... "The St. Lucie Sound," today the car survives in a museum and so does it's last passenger, who BTW took that photo.

Restoration was begun in 1985 to convert...
Looking down track 15-16 M/L, which end at the terminal, more exactly they end at the Terminal Restaurant, which if you could have walked straight down these sight line, you would have found yourself. No joke, the place was packed with Jacksonville business men up until the day it closed, and Denny's thinks THEY know how to make a grand slam... Denny's meet god!

The tomb of the last remaining passenger rail car on site.
This scene is double sad to a railroad historian, Seaboard Coast Line never operated the "Orange Blossom Special" passenger train, and where they have a train name painted, would have been the name of the car. In this case a First Class Sleeper Lounge

The Prime Osborn's exhibition hall has replaced the old terminal's platforms.
This "concourse" and perhaps 100' worth of the adjacent exhibit building is all of the Prime that is worth saving in the Metro-Jacksonville Transportation Center redesign.

The photo just above the concourse shot is that infamous corner again, those that have not heard the Big Jax Cat story, hang on to your seats.

This part of the terminal was open to the street, it also was in the part of the concourse (North end) near track 1-5 where all of the express and baggage was sorted. Bags often were stacked inside this area as it afforded a large open space. Theft became chronic, and finally so regular that the "baggage-smashers" could almost predict their arrival. A carload of thugs would screech to a stop, and a couple would toss 3 or 4 big bags in their 1950's auto. They were just irregular enough that the police had no luck in catching them in the several stakeouts. Finally an old train Conductor who lived in Hilliard or Callahan came in beaming one day with a big deluxe suitcase. He told the boys he used a live trap and caught that damn bobcat that had been raiding his chickens. "THE CAT WAS IN THE BAG!" Literally! The story goes that almost as soon as the boys sat it near the sidewalk, they came around the corner speeding to a stop. The bag was snatched and the car took off. They got down to about Cleveland Street when the car suddenly lurched into a telephone pole... To hear the railroaders tell it those boys are still running! The thefts stopped.

OCKLAWAHA

CS Foltz

January 08, 2010, 12:45:30 PM
finehoe............much thanks for the link! I can see the similarities  in the architecture and it is grand! Union Station is not near as big and it has been converted to a half butted Convention Center! Not really that and would take work to get back to Train Station status but would make sense! Build a new Convention Center with all of the amenities and get Union Station back to a train station..............heck even local LR could be run from there with some imagination and some funding!

heights unknown

January 08, 2010, 01:22:26 PM
The black waiting room?  The main waiting room?  I think they or whoever put the captions under each picture mean "the white waiting room" cause that's what it was.  If it was the main waiting room then blacks would have been allowed there and there wouldn't have been a black waiting room.

Yeah, hats were in for years and years from the turn of the century on up through the 1960's.  My Grandfather wore a hat when I was a boy and the black women still wear hats to Church (the older black women).

They need to make it (Union Terminal) a part of the new transportation center once again receiving trains in to Jax.

"HU"

thelakelander

January 08, 2010, 01:38:01 PM
I put the captions in.  Since I wasn't around back when it was a train station, I listed them as they were classified in the state archives.

Ocklawaha

January 08, 2010, 02:34:09 PM
Klutho strongly disliked the way the terminal was designed.  He had proposed an alternate setup whereby the terminal would be elevated above street level and the tracks, to separate foot traffic from road traffic.  The elevated setup also would have allowed passengers to exit the terminal with a direct view of downtown Jacksonville rather than walking directly into a less attractive vista of warehouses.

CONSIDER OUR AMSHACK, the old terminal handled as many people in 3 days as Amtrak handles in a YEAR. Location, Location, Location... and the mistake was repeated in spots all across the country. Here are a few of the Amshack details - all more or less twins of Jax:

Norfolk: Abandoned
Cincinnati: Abandoned
Poinciana: Abandoned razed
Albuquerque: Abandoned
St. Louis: Abandoned

JACKSONVILLE: Expanded 3x
 


From the Railroad Point of View...

Klutho's plan as I recall had 10 tracks M/L. This would have been a disaster with the onslaught of The Great Florida Boom. To give you an idea, for a time our 1919 station was the busiest railroad station in the entire world. It had 29 service tracks and 32+ Terminal tracks total. There wasn't enough concrete in Florida to have built that station over the sorely needed tracks. The situation got so bad, the FEC-ACL Havana Special was running in 23 sections! That is 23 trains to cover ONE schedule, so when it came in it was Advance Havana Special, 2Nd Havana Special, 3Rd... etc. That was just one of over 140 scheduled trains daily. Considering the state had to EMBARGO freight trains into Florida during that time, we were crushed with 29 tracks, imagine 10?

The though track design of Klutho would have been easier to work as a switcher could grab a cut of cars from either end. There just wouldn't have been enough tracks and the close in location would have prohibited expansion. As it is we ended up with about 15 stub tracks and 14 through tracks... The only sad explanation for
that many stub tracks is our mail and express, and the FACT that everyone in Florida expected Jacksonville to become the greatest metropolis in the South. Those tracks were built to originate and terminate trains, not to work through trains to Miami or Tampa.

The Klutho design would have been great for Newark, Hartford, or even Butte, where the trains were ELECTRIC. To have sent our steam trains and diesels through there would have been like boarding a train in a coal mine. The ENTIRE population of Jacksonville would have been "black!" no, not racial, I'm talking REALLY black!

The forest of pillars would have made for "night switching" at 12 noon, this was no doubt a concern of the railroad companies. Though the Klutho station track plan was superior in design, the yard was far too small even for the break-up and make-up duties of the station in the late 50's and early 60's, when we STILL scheduled 56 trains a day!

The 1919 Station is where it is today because the CITY forced the issue on the railroads, who would have had it closer in, and the City wanted it beyond Myrtle, in the Beaver Street Junctions. We probably couldn't have come up with a better spot unless one considers the alternative station location that was where the Maxwell house plant sits today. Perhaps a drawbridge at that location would have worked... We'll never know.


OCKLAWAHA


Ocklawaha

January 08, 2010, 02:57:53 PM
Actually HU, the term used in the station was "Colored Waiting Room" and "White Waiting Room" this is what the old signs read, and yes a white kid could get in trouble in the colored waiting room! I was in there once when I was quite young, (I had railroad After School care, LOL) but thinking about it, I don't even think it was in general use anymore. I was talking to some of the Terminal guys and some big shot came in and told me, "Your not supposed to be in here, this is the COLORED waiting room!" I was completely naive and retorted (see I was already a smart ass) "Hey I'm COLORED --- I'm WHITE!"  Which the guys thought was the funniest thing ever said, and NO WAY would they ever let me live it down.

Actually the railroad's in the State of Florida were way ahead of their time and sued, and won the right to integrate trains and facilities, this was prior to WWII, long before the civil rights battles. No doubt it was an economy measure, done to wipe out the need for two train cars, or special "Jim Crow" cars on the trains, where ever they could be replaced with a single car.  I don't know the details of the deal, but is was done, perhaps in phases, perhaps some counties held their stations out but here in Jax it was different. All over the station we had signs that read "Anyone regardless of color can use this _____"  fountains, restrooms, restaurant etc...


OCKLAWAHA

Wacca Pilatka

January 08, 2010, 03:13:27 PM
Ock, thanks as always for the always fascinating information.  Incidentally, Newport News' Amshack is still in operation, though not exactly healthy.  I assume because NN is so oddly shaped that there isn't necessarily a better spot for a station.

HU, my late grandmother and great-aunts, all of whom lived into the 2000s, all wore hats to church their entire lives.  Hat-wearing definitely is still around.

tufsu1

January 08, 2010, 03:34:09 PM
if you all want to see an Am-shack, do a Google search for the Birmingham, AL station....and I think its in the same area where the original station was!

thelakelander

January 08, 2010, 03:59:41 PM
Birmingham's Amshack

tufsu1

January 08, 2010, 05:14:15 PM
Lake...this is a "nice" pic...I was there yesterday and took another shot...one that includes oil tank trucks in the dilapidated parking lot!

stjr

January 09, 2010, 12:15:16 AM
Wonderful article.  We have lots of family movies of trips in and out of this station.  As a child, I loved going to see family and visitors off, running down the slopes of the tunnel ramps, the smell of the trains, and the power of the engines pulling them out.  In those days, visitors were even allowed to board the trains right up until they started to move out.  Porters and luggage carts everywhere.  A day when regular travelers knew the porters and people respected each other and gave personal service and attention.  A bygone era.

The link to Penn Station in NY is fascinating as is the resemblance to our Union Station.  How NY allowed its destruction is truly amazing.  While our RR station survives, we have allowed way too many other great local buildings to disappear creating our own travesty of destruction.

Looking at the aerial photo below and the street cars in other photos, our city planners of yore were far more superior and imaginative in effective land use and connectivity.  I bet none of them had college master degrees and maybe not even bachelors.  But, they seem to have had lots of common sense and took time to think out solutions that worked and were livable.  They are geniuses compared to today's planners who look like idiots by comparison with wasteful land use, cold designs, impersonal functionality, etc.  Union Station is a real intermodal transportation center and we would do good just to rebuild it as close to its original design as possible.

Most professions have advanced their trade over the decades but planning seems to have gone very far backwards.  The profession should really be embarrassed when they view pictures of pre-WW II cities compared to today's disjointed and dysfunctional land and city planning.  And, suburbia is nothing short of a crime against humanity and mother earth. Can we sue for professional negligence?  ???

  

mtraininjax

January 09, 2010, 04:27:25 AM
Nice article on the Union Station, now if only the old Post office or Courthouse could/would be as deserving of attention.

gogators07

January 09, 2010, 10:52:24 AM
The Terminal is also mentioned as waystation for Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in Frank Capra's "It Happened One Night."

In the film, both stars arrive by train in Jacksonville and leave north via bus.

http://www.filmsite.org/itha.html

Jaxson

January 09, 2010, 11:12:18 AM
It is admirable that Jacksonville did not raze the Union Terminal.  New York is still living down their colossal mistake of demolishing Pennsylvania Station. 
I still hope that we will return passenger rail to where it belongs.  As it is now, however, nobody seems to care.  It feels like each time I post about this topic, it's just spitting into the wind.  We seem to be a city that is content with mediocrity.  It is even more galling for me to write our city's leaders and get nothing in way of a response - with the exception of one city councilman.

CS Foltz

January 09, 2010, 11:13:21 AM
stjr............nice post big fella! AGREED! Some aspects, such as plain common sense, seems to have take a back seat to urban planning and the like! There is something be said about the "Days of yore"...........technology is not the ultimate answer but only a tool to be used..............just like common sense!

finehoe

January 09, 2010, 11:18:41 AM
The Terminal is also mentioned as waystation for Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in Frank Capra's "It Happened One Night."

In the film, both stars arrive by train in Jacksonville and leave north via bus.

http://www.filmsite.org/itha.html

Actually, as your own link says, they arrive in Jacksonville by bus:

"In the Miami bus station, detectives can't believe she would take a lower-class night bus. "We're wasting our time. Can you imagine Ellie Andrews riding on a bus?" To evade her father's search by traveling incognito, she has another elderly lady buy a ticket for her on a Greyhound bus - a rickety, proletarian means of transportation which would be unlikely for a rich heiress. She is determined to escape detection and join her husband (to spite her father) after a night bus ride from Miami, Florida to New York. "

The scene in Jacksonville presents the city as quite the bustling metropolis, although I doubt it was actually filmed on location.

gogators07

January 09, 2010, 01:36:53 PM
Oh you're right -- they do arrive on bus!

No it wasn't filmed on location -- but a set was constructed to convey a sense of downtown Jacksonville at the time.

Another film, "A Florida Enchantment" (based on an earlier 1891 novel) also prominently featured transportation to and from Jacksonville.

mtraininjax

January 10, 2010, 04:34:46 PM
Quote
I still hope that we will return passenger rail to where it belongs.  As it is now, however, nobody seems to care.

Its not that nobody seems to care, if we, citizens, want the PO to again live as a terminal, we need more players than locals who would like to "see trains stop there". Take for instance what is taking place at Denver's Union Terminal. Similar issue, gateway to the west, historic structure, downtown Denver, http://www.unionstationdenver.com/index.aspx, this is the gold standard by which all future downtown developments of railroad stations will be judged. It is an amazing effort by City of Denver, Colorado DOT, Denver Regional Govts, and the Regional Transportation District. That is a HUGE effort, and its organized. Jax is not as well dialed in, the trans hub is a step, but is nothing on the level of what Denver has planned.

The FEC Picture with the EMD engine and 3 streamliner passenger cars is most likely an EMD E3, I have a picture on my wall of one of Mark Johnson's paintings, and that slant and headlight configuration is most likely an early E3, which is my favorite passenger diesel. Nice pic!

Ron Mexico

January 10, 2010, 11:18:32 PM
What a great series of pictures.  I love being able to come to this site to get a look at the history of the some of the more recognizable buildings in Jacksonville.  Please keep up the good work!

heights unknown

January 11, 2010, 05:43:32 AM
I put the captions in.  Since I wasn't around back when it was a train station, I listed them as they were classified in the state archives.

Gotcha Lake; wasn't rapping you on the knuckles, just laying out the "real deal" on those "caps."  Great job you did for this thread.


"HU"

JaxNative68

January 11, 2010, 06:14:34 PM
"The tomb of the last remaining passenger rail car on site.
This scene is double sad to a railroad historian, Seaboard Coast Line never operated the "Orange Blossom Special" passenger train, and where they have a train name painted, would have been the name of the car. In this case a First Class Sleeper Lounge"

Maybe the one who painted the name on was a Johnny Cash fan and couldn't resist.

JaxNative68

January 11, 2010, 08:32:14 PM
Look a-yonder comin'
Comin' down that railroad track
Hey, look a-yonder comin'
Comin' down that railroad track
It's the Orange Blossom Special
Bringin' my baby back

Well, I'm going down to Florida
And get some sand in my shoes
Or maybe Californy
And get some sand in my shoes
I'll ride that Orange Blossom Special
And lose these New York blues

"Say man, when you going back to Florida?"
"When am I goin' back to Florida? I don't know, don't reckon I ever will."
"Ain't you worried about getting your nourishment in New York?"
"Well, I don't care if I do-die-do-die-do-die-do-die."

Hey talk about a-ramblin'
She's the fastest train on the line
Talk about a-travellin'
She's the fastest train on the line
It's that Orange Blossom Special
Rollin' down the seaboard line

JaxNative68

January 11, 2010, 08:41:13 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkKuhOkg1sI&feature=youtube_gdata

boteman

January 12, 2010, 01:11:53 AM
Perhaps I missed something, but is Prime Osborn no longer being used as a convention center? Or is this conversion back to a train terminal being promoted as a Good Idea?

Thanx.

Charles Hunter

January 12, 2010, 06:30:02 AM
It's something a lot of folks here think is A Good Idea.
Which means the chances of it happening are slim.  (Yes, I got up on the pessimistic side of bed today.)

mtraininjax

January 13, 2010, 12:05:56 AM
Quote
It's something a lot of folks here think is A Good Idea.

I know a few good city workers who had a "good idea" once, they left the public sector and went to work in the private sector where they cared about ideas.

MajorCordite

February 11, 2010, 07:28:17 PM
OCKLAWAHA writes: Actually the railroad's in the State of Florida were way ahead of their time and sued, and won the right to integrate trains and facilities, this was prior to WWII, long before the civil rights battles. No doubt it was an economy measure, done to wipe out the need for two train cars, or special "Jim Crow" cars on the trains, where ever they could be replaced with a single car.  I don't know the details of the deal, but is was done, perhaps in phases, perhaps some counties held their stations out but here in Jax it was different. All over the station we had signs that read "Anyone regardless of color can use this _____"  fountains, restrooms, restaurant etc..."

My grandfather as well as my father worked for the Atlantic Coast Line from 1920 till 1968.  I had an executive pass that granted "professional courtesy" on all lines.  All during the late 1950's and 1960's, as a teenager, I travelled the country with this pass.  All you had to do was show up at the concourse and board.  Many times during the Xmas Holidays the trains were completely full of Vietnam War soldiers and I had to sit in a lounge area with my suitcase, sleeping sitting up.   

In 1948 President Truman's mandate thru the Interstate  Commerce Commission and the U.S. Courts banned segregation in railroad dining cars. Black passengers in the early 1950's, in the South, were restricted to the "colored" coach which was located behind the diesel.   I remember as a very young boy walking back to the passenger coach in the dark to find my parents and I walked into this car on the Champion.    It struck me as being very odd because many of the ACL employees on the train were African American.  By 1957 the "colored" coach on the Champion was retired.  However, I do remember that most of the restrooms up until the mid 1960's were segregated in most of the small southern town depots.   

BridgeTroll

February 12, 2010, 06:32:36 AM
Interesting account Major... Thank you... :)

MajorCordite

February 12, 2010, 12:04:49 PM
What a wonderful set of pictures.   Lonesome train whistles and old train stations provide evocative memories for many folks and some people are even moved to write songs or poems about these iron horses.   In 1968, my dad took me down to the Union Terminal and put me on the *Gulf Wind (*correction) to visit my cousins in New Orleans, I was 15 years old.  As I said my goodbyes and pulled out of the station I did not know that it was the last time I was ever to see him. We lost him in a tragic accident.   Several months later I woke up in the middle of the night and wrote this poem.   And one of my favorite songs, even to this day, is The Dixie Flyer, written and sung by Randy Newman.  Please check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jiLL2d-alc&feature=related

Grass Between The Tracks

There lies across this changing land
a pair of once polished rails
steamed and buffed under turning wheels
by locomotives of iron and steel.

The swaying light on trains of night,
the rumbling of wooden ties and tracks,
the barking of distant dogs at dawn
the smoke, the hissing steam, all have gone.

Goods and people of a time not long past
rode to and from towns that are no more
on racing, rumbling giants driven so fast
playing children waving as they passed.

Grasses bordered by parallel rails
begin to sprout from years of sleep,
the massive engines rest in yards of lull,
the shining steel so quickly dulls.

Ocklawaha

February 12, 2010, 01:32:11 PM

My grandfather as well as my father worked for the Atlantic Coast Line from 1920 till 1968.  I had an executive pass that granted "professional courtesy" on all lines.  All during the late 1950's and 1960's, as a teenager, I travelled the country with this pass.  All you had to do was show up at the concourse and board.  Many times during the Xmas Holidays the trains were completely full of Vietnam War soldiers and I had to sit in a lounge area with my suitcase, sleeping sitting up.  

In 1948 President Truman's mandate thru the Interstate  Commerce Commission and the U.S. Courts banned segregation in railroad dining cars. Black passengers in the early 1950's, in the South, were restricted to the "colored" coach which was located behind the diesel.   I remember as a very young boy walking back to the passenger coach in the dark to find my parents and I walked into this car on the Champion.    It struck me as being very odd because many of the ACL employees on the train were African American.  By 1957 the "colored" coach on the Champion was retired.  However, I do remember that most of the restrooms up until the mid 1960's were segregated in most of the small southern town depots.  

I too enjoyed your account major. I ran across the supposed integration of our trains, when searching through the streetcar company files.  Then again with railroad company legal history's. I do have the photo of one of those signs that stood above the restrooms in Jacksonville Terminal. As I said, I don't know the details, or how (if at all) the employees responded to this thinking. I am certain of one thing, and that being it wasn't done out of any feeling of equality, rather cold, hard, economics.

OCKLAWAHA

stjr

February 12, 2010, 05:40:28 PM
Nice poem, Major.  Definitely evokes a time past.  Enjoyed your other accounts as well.

Sorry about your Dad.  That had to be especially tough at age 15.  I try to never take people for granted and stories like this keep me mindful of that.

Ocklawaha

February 12, 2010, 07:06:20 PM
Major, I have a question for you. How did they route you on the Dixie Flyer to New Orleans? Wartime? I can't think of any other reason.

The Dixie Flyer ran from Chicago - Evansville - Nashville - Chattanooga - Atlanta - Manchester - Jacksonville - Daytona Beach - West Palm Beach - Miami

Maybe they sent you by way of Atlanta? That would have been one cool trip.

Randy Newman seems to be singing about the Sunset or Sunbeam, those were the Los Angeles - New Orleans trains, he apparently borrowed the Dixie Flyer name to paint a broad palate.

In any case, since I'm the unofficial train photo guy, here is the Dixie Flyer in better days.



Dixie Flyer #95 roars past on the Main as the South Wind #92 sits in the hole, Tallahoma, TN about 1961


OCKLAWAHA

MajorCordite

February 13, 2010, 03:42:26 PM
Oklawaha, you are the tops!   I'm looking for an editior  ;)  I corrected my post. I meant to say the Gulf Wind out of Union Station.   And I think you are correct about Randy Newman's Dixie Flyer.  Artistic license?  Maybe he was referring to the Sunset Limited?   Maybe it's a bit to hard to do a S.L. piano rift.  

Also, help me out here.  On your picture above of #95, was it true that the ACL bought the Louisville and Nashville Railroad system way back in the early 1900's, but kept the L&N separate for its entire life?  Thanks.

Ocklawaha

February 14, 2010, 12:08:01 AM
Yes, Major, you are 100% correct, the L&N was a ACL property, as was the NC&STL (Nashville Chattanooga and St. Louis) though the NC&STL were folded into the L&N. In the early 20's +/- a decade or two, the railroads in Dixie went through several major changes... For example the old Georgia and Florida Railroad, life long "basket case" from Greenwood SC, through Augusta GA, Midville, Vidalia, Hazelhurst, Douglas, Valdosta, Madison FL, was cobbled together by the former Seaboard President (John Williams). It's not generally known that the G&F was M/L a ward of the Seaboard until about 1960, it was sold in 63 to the Southern Railway, who merged it into their Central of Georgia.  The Central of Georgia was another toy in the box. It actually belonged to the Illinois Central from about 1910 until the mid 50's. This effectively gave them a road stretching from Sioux Falls SD, Chicago IL, Indianapolis IN, to Dallas TX, New Orleans, and Savannah GA!  In a shuffle during the mid 1950's the IC left the CofG and the Frisco stepped into the void. The Frisco itself was part of the "Rock Island - Frisco System" and adding the CofG created a railroad from Colorado Springs CO, Denver CO, Minneapolis MN, Chicago IL, to El Paso TX, Houston TX, Pensacola FL, Savannah GA! The ROCK was riding so high that it applied for an equal partner merger with the Union Pacific System, however the ICC held up a decision for 10+ years, in the meantime disaster struck. The Frisco - Rock Island system (like the MKT or KATY) bought into the "new age" thinking from Wall Street that recommended that the seasonal Granger railroads should practice deferred railroad maintenance to flush cash out that could be used for equipment and other investments. Within 5 years, some of the grain belt trackage had sunk so far into the mud that it vanished from the prairie's. Rail cars standing alone in yards or sidings would suddenly derail, as rails would twist under the heavy loads, without fresh roadbed ballast, leveling, and tie replacements. By the time the ICC finally gave the go-ahead on the merger, the Rock had lost the Frisco and CofG, it's plant was a shambles and a doomsday clock started ticking, one that ended in 1980.

What is so cool from a local point of view is how close we came to adding two more major railroad connections with the world. Imagine what a EAST COAST ROCKET might have looked like, "Rock Island - Frisco's new all coach streamliner from Denver to Miami (via Jacksonville)." or Imagine if the Illinois Central's Magnolia would have had a sister? "Illinois Central's new winter season Orange Blossom, From St. Louis to Miami..."  Of course or then again, the Georgia and Florida RR might have finally made it all the way to Tampa and to Charlotte, with a natural sub-main into Jax. All of these things probably would have happened save for the Depression and WWII. Weird thing is, even in this age of Merger madness, we would STILL have 4-5 independent railroads (rather then 3 majors today) as the Frisco is now part of BNSF, The IC is Canadian National.



This isn't the Gulf Wind but it is the "Tallahassee Flyer" of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. A Jacksonville - Tallahassee shuttle to compliment the existent Jacksonville - Gainesville trains... Don't we wish?


Governor and Mrs. Sholtz greeted the Tallahassee Flyer, streamlined DMU of the Seaboard Air Line Railway Company. Mrs. Sholtz christened the train on the exhibition run from Jacksonville.

Included in the photograph are Justice Fred Henry Davis on the far left, Governor Sholtz and his wife third and fourth from the left, Justice Rivers Buford and his son Rivers Buford Jr. sixth from the left, Chief Justice James B. Whitfield ninth from the left. The location of the following in the photograph are unknown: W.B. Douglass the chairman of the Railroad Commission and Federal Judge Louie Strum. Photographed on January 3, 1936. At Jacksonville Terminal.

You see the more things change, the more they stay the same. This is exactly what we are trying to interest the City / State / Amtrak into doing again, along with a sister train to and from Gainesville. Even the DMU's in this photo are being offered on the market again... Who would have thunk it?

GEEZE GUYS! See what happens when someone like Major goes and tips my history bucket over? Damn!


OCKLAWAHA

LPBrennan

March 15, 2010, 05:44:34 PM
The Seaboard Air Line's "Silver Meteor" did not replace the "Orange Blossom Special" as stated in the picture of the original "Meteor" at the Terminal, dated February 2, 1939. The "Special" was a winter-only train, inaugurated in January 1925 and making its last run in April 1953. It was a Pullman-only train through most of its career and served both coasts of Florida, sometimes as  separate trains. In many seasons it by-passed Jacksonville altogether. The "Meteor" was begun as a coach-only train between New York and Miami on a limited schedule until enough light-weight equipment could be delivered to make it a daily train with a Tampa-St. Pete connection from Wildwood, which was originally handled by a light Pacific shrouded and painted in a "citrus" (green-orange-yellow) scheme similar to the E4 diesels. Three of the Seaboard's new E4s (A units 3000 and 3001 with B unit 3100) were operated on a system-wide tour from Washington to Florida between October 31 and November 22, 1938. The train's consist was two "American Flyer" cars, a diner, and three heavyweight sleepers. (It was at Jacksonville November 8, and the sight of the colorful diesels inspired Chubby Wise and Ervin Rouse to compose their eponymous song that night.) After the tour, the E4s were used on the winter-only "Special" beginning December 15, 1939 from New York. The Seaboard advertised the 1939-40 "Special" as the only all-electric train to Florida, handled by electric locomotives over the Pennsylvania Railroad from New York and the diesel-electric E4s from Washington south. (Remember: A "diesel" locomotive is actually an electric locomotive that carries its own power plant.) When the "Meteor" began operating about six weeks later, both trains used the new locomotives. The "Meteor" was a year-round train and never a replacement for the extra-fare "Special." Eventually, sleepers and first-class lounges were added to the light-weight train, the culmination being the three Sun Roof bedroom-lounges, unique to the Seaboard. The last E4 of Seaboard's order, 3014, was put on display in the summer of 1939 at the World's Fair in New York. (Thanks to Theodore Shrady and Arthur Waldrop for information from their book, "Orange Blossom Special: Florida's Distinguished Winter Train" and to Joseph M. Welsh, "By Streamliner New York to Florida.")

LPBrennan

March 15, 2010, 09:14:15 PM
Oh- and speaking of the song "Orange Blossom Special"- nice to see the words there. And I suppose Cash does a fair job of singing it, though his tempo is more reminiscent of a branch line local than a crack Florida flyer, which the "Special" was- In my opinion, the best version ever recorded was the instrumental by Billy Vaughn. It rocks, it rolls, it roars down the track and wails for the crossings of small Carolina towns. Check the YouTube link- no video accompaniment, but just listen- and feel the room rock and sway as she swings into the curves...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzxFrGCenS8

stjr

March 15, 2010, 10:07:32 PM
LP, welcome to MJ.  Enjoyed your history and the music post.  The music paints a great picture in this rendition.  Would love to see someone add a video of a running train to it.

Ocklawaha

March 16, 2010, 12:34:23 AM
Examples of the two railroad car type's we have been discussing:



Pullman heavyweight sleeper "Lake Caroline" (10 sections, 1 drawing room, 2 compartments) leads Seaboard Air Line Railway heavyweight sleeper "New Portage" (10 sections, 1 drawing room, 2 compartments).


Perhaps the most famous American train of all time, the California Zephyr was a lightweight wonder that lasted until the eve of Amtrak on it's Chicago - Oakland route THROUGH the Rocky's, not around them. Sadly it was cut just a year before Amtrak took over, but one doubts it would have made the cut anyway... One "sailed" onboard the CZ, where one RIDES Amtrak.

Welcome aboard LP. I'd still consider the OBS replaced by the Meteor, if not officially, by specific time and date, certainly by the ground swell of changes that came about with lightweight streamlined equipment, and as you stated when the lightweights went Pullman, that was pretty much the ball game. The same thing happened all over the country as onetime heavyweight flagship "all Pullman (sleeper)" trains were either phased out, or modernized, usually with a mix of Pullman and Coach Class cars. In the heyday of the OBS, no self respecting Pullman customer would have been seen mingling with the Coach class folks. Maybe it was WWII that merged our societies, after spending 5 years sleeping together in fox holes, it no longer mattered.

My family as well as another long lost cousin on this site, created the sleeping car patents for just about everything we relate to pull down, fold out, pop up, camping, sleeping, etc...  The MANN BOUDOIR CAR COMPANY, was later sold to Pullman Standard.

I have ridden both the heavyweights and the lightweights, and though the later were far more popular with the "in" crowd of the 40's - 60's, I really think the old Heavyweights rode way better.



OCKLAWAHA
BTW, Charlie Daniels wasn't too bad on the OBS song either!

Miss Fixit

March 16, 2010, 07:34:50 AM
LP and OCK -

I've recently been reading about the railroads in Florida between the Civil War and 1900.  One thing that interests me is the use of railroad officials "private cars" to evacuate prominent citizens of Jacksonville during the yellow fever epidemics.  Any idea what those private railroad cars would have looked like, say around 1889?

LPBrennan

March 16, 2010, 08:10:37 AM
The biggest reason for the disappearance of the heavyweights (and all-Pullman trains in general) was the collapse of rail passenger service after World War II. Railroads had been looking for lightweight trains since 1900, mostly for purposes of cutting costs, especially on branch lines. Trying to adapt internal combustion to rail use was another impetus to lower cost. The Florida East Coast ran a gas-electric car out of the old Jacksonville Terminal (the 1896 one with the thousand-foot train shed) for Mayport service around 1910. It was not too successful and was sold to a railroad in Minnesota. Diesel locomotives were built in the 1920s, but they were slow and not very powerful. The Depression of the 1930s lead to more experiments with cost-cutting lightweights, using various power plants and material like aluminum, but it was the collaboration of four men: Ralph Budd of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Edward G. Budd (no relation) who discovered the way to fabricate stainless steel; Harold Hamilton whose Electro-Motive Corporation succeeded in building smaller, powerful diesels; and Charles Kettering of General Motors, who bought Hamilton's company and promoted the development of the diesel engine in America, that produced the most famous lightweight train, the Zephyr, which attracted world-wide attention with a dawn to dusk run from Denver to Chicago on May 26, 1934. By the end of the decade America was running the fastest trains in the world, with thousands of miles daily run at speeds approaching 100 mph (or better!). Most but not all of these trains were diesel-powered lightweights. Lightweight generally meant stainless steel, air-conditioned cars with a low arched roof and smooth sides or corrugated stainless steel. General Motors built most of the diesels, and the lightweight engines and trains were painted a rainbow of colors, unlike the drab greens and browns that dominated for decades before that. Even steam locomotives received shrouds and colors, and some were built specifically for the light, fast trains that captured the public's imagination and increased ridership. These trains made money.
World War II curtailed these developments as the nation's railroads were used to serve the military emergency. Trains were canceled and speeds slowed, an excise tax of 15% placed on all tickets to fund the war and discourage travel. (Is this trip necessary? posters asked.) American railroads planned great developments at the conflict's end. Orders were placed for great fleets of modern, comfortable cars.
But the Federal government had other ideas. Every congressional district clamored for its own airport- and got it. In 1948, the Interstate Commerce Commission outlawed all trains faster than 79 mph on most track. (Just because it could- there was no evidence that fast trains were dangerous.) The railroad brotherhoods refused to relax labor laws that dated to World War I when passenger trains were much slower and required firemen. (Example- it took fifteen men- three complete crews- to run a train from Jacksonville to Miami on the FEC.) And to pay for new roads, states and municipalities raised taxes on railroad-owned facilities. That war-time excise tax remained until the 1960s. In 1955, the federal government got involved in road-building with the Interstate Defense Highways. The rail system collapsed. Car-building all but ceased, and heavyweights disappeared because they were no longer needed. (Fifty years was considered a normal life span for passenger cars- heavyweights built in the Twenties were in regular use up to Amtrak.) Hundreds of modern lightweight cars were sold to Canada and Mexico as railroads cut back or abandoned the passenger train. We in Florida were fortunate, because the New York-Florida service remained popular until Amtrak. We did not see the deteriorating service one saw on the Penn Central or elsewhere. In winter of 1970, Seaboard Coast Line was operating four first-class trains a day, which often ran to twenty cars of coaches, sleepers, lounges and diners. There were several coach-only trains as well (often with modernized heavyweight cars), and daily service to Naples, Sarasota, Fort Myers, and Venice, with two routes to Tampa, St. Petersburg and Miami. Amtrak improved trains in a lot of the country, but not in Florida!

LPBrennan

March 16, 2010, 12:13:02 PM
LP and OCK -

I've recently been reading about the railroads in Florida between the Civil War and 1900.  One thing that interests me is the use of railroad officials "private cars" to evacuate prominent citizens of Jacksonville during the yellow fever epidemics.  Any idea what those private railroad cars would have looked like, say around 1889?

They would have looked like the brass-railed, open-platform observation cars seen on the ends of the main passenger trains of the era. In the era before vestibules, the train end would also have had an open platform, with open steps on both sides. The railed platform allowed passengers to ride outside, and officials to inspect the line. The cars may also have been older cars, as many "private" or "business" cars were converted from older stock. Usually only the president of the railroad was afforded a new, specially-built car. Many officers and superintendents had private cars which were essentially traveling offices. A car of the 1880s would have been wood construction throughout, with an open clerestory. It would have been anywhere from 60' to about 75' long.
During the yellow fever epidemic, when the city of Jacksonville was under quarantine, trains passed the town. They would have stopped at LaVilla Junction, the area west of the current I-95. Crews and locomotives were changed here, but the cars were locked to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the city.

Ocklawaha

March 16, 2010, 12:33:57 PM









OCKLAWAHA

Miss Fixit

March 16, 2010, 12:48:38 PM
Thanks for the great info and photographs!  Here's an item regarding trains and yellow fever from the October 15, 1888 isssue of the New York Times:

"Captain D.E. Maxwell and his chief engineer, Mr. Bushnell, of the Florida Railway and Navigation Company, who are recovering from a very severe attack of the prevailing Fernandina fever, left this morning in the Captain's private car for a Northern recuperative tour.  They will be accompanied by Col. and Mrs. F. R. Osborne of this city, who join the others at Baldwin. Mrs. Osborne has been very ill and stands in need of a change of scene.  Her husband, Manager of the Southern Express, has decided to accompany and care for her upon this trip, and they will visit Virginia, Baltimore and the East, going by way of Pensacola on the Louisville and Nashville."

LPBrennan

March 17, 2010, 11:05:48 AM

The current Jacksonville Terminal is the 1919 structure which replaced the original facility opened in the 1890s. I drew this aerial view of it based on photos, plans, and Sanford maps in the library. All that is left is the reconstructed tower on Bay Street. The original trainshed- which was over 1,000' long, was blown down by a hurricane in 1895 and was rebuilt. (I mis-dated the original drawing. Someday I'll correct that. Meanwhile- it's an error.)

In this postcard view from the Florida State collection, you can see the roof of the center concourse which bisected the train shed.

LPBrennan

March 17, 2010, 11:14:05 AM

Another drawing I did of the old Jacksonville Terminal. This shows Florida East Coast #61- a 4-4-2 atlantic-type locomotive- heading a train about to leave for points south. This grand facade stood over the tracks at the east end of the trainshed. The west end had two arched openings with three towers. I drew these two drawings for use on the covers of the annual banquet Program for the North Florida Chapter, National Railroad Historical Society.

stjr

March 17, 2010, 11:16:38 AM
LP, you have talent as well as knowledge!  A real "Renaissance man"!  This is neat stuff.  I don't recall seeing a representation of the original station before.  It would be great to combine elements of this into the proposed intermodal terminal, especially if it was relocated to the Prime Osborn site as advocated by many here.  Of course, that would take vision and thought, and, at present, JTA and FDOT have failed to demonstrate either.

Ocklawaha

March 17, 2010, 12:34:33 PM
Okay, put me down for one print copy! Love it.

I've always liked the old Trainshed design, and if JTA get's it's way, they will return the tracks to this same level (McCoy's Creek), meaning every time it storms, the railroad will be shut down for flooding.

The reason most of the train-shed's came down is they are dirty places unless one is operating electric locomotives.



OCKLAWAHA

Cliffs_Daughter

April 20, 2010, 12:52:33 PM
I don't know if anyone else posted this, but I ran across some photos of the terminal fire - courtesy of the Jacksonville Fire Museum.
I'm not up on my history to know when this happened.  Looks like 70's based on the cars I see... oops, I just answered my own question there - 1979.

Photos #1 and 9 are nice contrast.
http://www.jacksonvillefiremuseum.com/Terminal_1.html

fsujax

April 20, 2010, 01:10:36 PM
wow. great pictures. sad, but nice historical perspective. The fire was in the 1970's.

Ernest Street

April 20, 2010, 02:01:45 PM
Great find! Those Benjamin Moore Paint signs outside  sure tell us what accelerated it

stjr

April 20, 2010, 08:45:39 PM
I remember the Bay Street Post Office, the main P.O. for Jax, before Kings Road was built, that sat down the block from the station and this fire, just short of Myrtle.  Now, just another under used parking lot like the much of the rest of downtown Jax history.  So, why was it torn down?  Another decision with no likely rational answer.

There were rows of brick warehouses lining the north side of Bay Street and the south side of Forsyth as I recall with the rail sidings running down the middle of the block between the two streets.  You can see some remnants of this in the photo below.

Bay Street P.O. is the white roofed building in upper right of photo as I see it.  It's also interesting to see McCoy's creek in this photo looking like a navigable tributary to the St. Johns, not an oversized ditch.



LPBrennan

April 20, 2010, 10:17:47 PM
The West Bay Annex was one of Klutho's last buildings, I believe. Not having Wood's book handy.... It was one of the places the Gateway Model Railroad Club occupied. We were there for several years in the late 70s, until we were hit by break-ins and finally serious vandalism that damaged a lot of the layout. We moved to the rooms above Owens Pharmacy in Five Points, where we remained for twenty years. The Club lost the space three years ago; our layout was dismantled and we meet only for dinner and programs now.

One of the buildings across Bay Street was the Terminal Company commissary. They sold clothing and other gear there used by the employees. For thirty-five cents you could buy a Terminal Company patch. I bought a bunch and gave most of them away. I think I have one left somewhere. (Should've bought the whole damned box!)

stjr

April 20, 2010, 10:40:07 PM
Did a Google photo search and it brought me right back to good 'ol MJ.  Along with the West Bay Annex, the last picture of the ACL terminal on Forsyth is one of the buildings I had in mind in my earlier post.


Union Terminal - West Bay Street (the facade still remains)




West Bay P.O. Annex:



Atlantic Coast Line Terminal - SW corner of Forsyth & Jefferson;


Ocklawaha

April 21, 2010, 12:58:32 AM
"THE GULF WIND"
   ... ANOTHER MJ PROPOSAL

LEAVES                                                    ARRIVES
8:00....AM.........JACKSONVILLE.(See Notes)..11:30...PM
9:30....AM..........Lake City.........................10:30...PM
12:05..PM...........TALLAHASSEE...................8:00....PM
12:10..PM...........Chattahoochee.................5:55....PM
12:55..PM...........Cottondale.......................4:10....PM
2:55....PM...........Crestview........................3:10....PM
4:20....PM...........PENSACOLA.....................1:45....PM
5:45....PM...........Floamington.....................12:20...PM
7:20....PM...........MOBILE...........................10:45..AM
8:14....PM...........Pascagoula.......................9:45...AM
8:44....PM...........Edgewater Park.................9:22...AM
9:11....PM...........Bay St. Louis....................8:55...AM
10:20...PM..........NEW ORLEANS.(See Notes)..7:45...AM

* Sleeping cars to or from the Sunset Limited (connecting train) may be occupied overnight in New Orleans. No change of cars for Florida - Sunset Limited Passengers.


+ Sleeping cars to or from the City Of New Orleans (connecting train) may be occupied overnight in New Orleans
affording passengers with an evening or morning of free time in New Orleans. No change of cars for Florida - City of New Orleans Passengers.

# Sleeping cars to or from Miami, South and Central Florida will be forwarded on The Palmetto, a connecting train from Jacksonville,  no change of cars required.

XX - This proposed schedule is based on actual rail travel times at freight train speeds only for an over-all average speed of 40.52 MPH.  With passenger trains reaching 79 MPH on much of Florida's trackage tightening this schedule could be easily done.

      "THE PALMETTO"

LEAVES                                                              ARRIVES

6:15....AM.....NEW YORK CITY....PENN STATION......10:56..PM
9:54....AM.....Washington DC................................7:05...PM
11:49...AM.....Richmond.......................................4:30...PM
3:27....PM......Fayetteville...................................12:54..PM
6:46....PM......Charleston.....................................10:40..AM
8:34....PM......Savannah......................................8:00....AM
11:23..PM.......JACKSONVILLE...............................5:45....AM
----------------------------------------------------------------
11:58..PM.......JACKSONVILLE................................5:16...AM
3:25....AM.......ORLANDO......................................1:41...AM
7:24....AM.......West Palm Beach...........................10:05..PM
8:32....AM........FT LAUDERDALE............................9:00....PM
9:25....AM........MIAMI.........................................8:15....PM

YY - This schedule demonstrates the insanity of AMTRAK currently turning the PALMETTO at Savannah. It is missing a 1.3 MILLION PERSON market by 149 rail miles. As this train previously operated into JAX and beyond for a short time, the current station can handle it until Jacksonville Terminal comes back on line.

>>  - The speeds on this schedule are REAL passenger train speeds taken from standard Amtrak times to all of these stations.  So actual travel times shown are for 79 MPH trains.

## -  This is a condensed schedule and does NOT show all of the intermediate stops

WELL FOLKS? WHATCHA THINK??  Think it'll fly Wilbur?

One new train, and one train extension and we gain service to Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California and the Florida Pan Handle.



OCKLAWAHA

LPBrennan

April 21, 2010, 08:01:04 PM
Dream on. It ain't illegal... not yet, anyway!

I mentioned the Gateway Model Railroad Club, which was located at various times in the Terminal, the East Coast Terminal warehouse on Forsyth Street, the West Bay Annex Post Office, and Owen's Pharmacy in Five Points.

While we were at the A&EC warehouse, I acquired a partial set of plans for the headhouse- enough to give me the three dimensions for a model. Though the drawings were 1/8" to the foot (1:96), I built one to full HO 1:87 scale. This is one of the structures severely damaged by vandalism at West Bay. I kept the parts for years and only put it back together (sort of) when the guys at NorthEast Florida Model Railroad Club, then based at Moosehaven in Orange Park, asked if they could use it on their modular layout which they took to the National Model Railroad Association's convention at Atlanta in 1995. Here's a picture of the reconstructed model. It didn't bear close inspection, but it was in the center of the layout. A number of people commented that they remembered going through that station.

stjr

April 21, 2010, 09:57:38 PM
Larry, your talents continue to amaze.

Great work.

mtraininjax

April 21, 2010, 11:32:34 PM
Quote
I remember the Bay Street Post Office, the main P.O. for Jax

STJR - Wasnt't the main post office along Adams Street? It had a bell tower and was close to Hogan and Adams. Could have also been on Forsyth, replaced by the Atlantic Bank Building.

Larry - When are you going to create some more prints for cards?

stjr

April 22, 2010, 12:10:28 AM
Quote
I remember the Bay Street Post Office, the main P.O. for Jax

STJR - Wasnt't the main post office along Adams Street? It had a bell tower and was close to Hogan and Adams. Could have also been on Forsyth, replaced by the Atlantic Bank Building.

Mtrain, I suspect Jax has had several "main" P.O.'s over a hundred plus years of history so you may be correct for one such period.

The main P.O. for downtown P.O. Boxes for as long as I could recall growing up was the ground floor of the old Federal Courthouse building.  But, I believe the West Bay Annex was the "main" location for receiving mail shipped by rail and processing it for further delivery.  Also, I seem to recall there were boxes or package pickups there at some point as I know my father visited West Bay when it was open to receive mail occasionally.

LPBrennan

April 22, 2010, 07:04:54 AM
For about half a century after The Fire, this was the Federal building and main Post Office downtown:



This shows the streetcar track on Hogan after it was doubled.

finehoe

April 22, 2010, 07:25:59 AM
^^Nice!

stephendare

April 22, 2010, 10:17:50 AM
For about half a century after The Fire, this was the Federal building and main Post Office downtown:



This shows the streetcar track on Hogan after it was doubled.

great find lpbrennan.  Can you imagine rebuilding this system today?

urbanlibertarian

April 22, 2010, 06:17:22 PM
Here's something I put together a few years ago for the Parks @ the Cathedral newsletter:

Jacksonville Postal History Time Line

1816   Weekly mail service begins by boat and horseback between St. Augustine, San Pablo (Jax Beach), Fernandina and St. Marys.
1822   Jacksonville streets are laid out and town is named.
1824   Jacksonville’s first post office is established in a general store on the south side of Bay St. near Newnan St.  John L. Dogget is the first postmaster.
1826   A horseback mail route is established through Indian Territory to Tallahassee.
1827   City founder Isaiah D. Hart becomes Jacksonville’s second postmaster.
1830's   Mail carried by stagecoaches.
1840's   Mail carried by steamboats.
1860's   Mail carried by railroad until 1960's.
1884   Letter carrier service begins on foot and horseback.    Letter collection boxes in neighborhoods.
1895   Jacksonville post office moves into new Federal building at Forsyth and Hogan Sts.  It is the tallest building in the state and will be spared in the Great Fire of 1901.
1910's   Mail arriving by train is taken to the post office by wagon.  Residents can post letters at five drugstores.      Local mail moves by trolley, horse, mule, boat, bicycle or on foot.
1915   Jacksonville’s first substation opens at the Union Terminal warehouse.
1928   Air Mail service begins at Paxon Field on Melson Ave.
1932   West Bay Annex opens next to Union Terminal and handles 80% of Florida’s mail.
1934   New downtown post office opens in Federal building on west Monroe St.
1955   Jacksonville has eleven substations and fifteen contract stations.
1975   General Mail Center opens on Kings Rd. replacing West Bay Annex.

stjr

April 22, 2010, 06:25:21 PM
Quote
1895   Jacksonville post office moves into new Federal building at Forsyth and Hogan Sts.  It is the tallest building in the state and will be spared in the Great Fire of 1901.

One major building survives the fire of 1901 and we tore it down?!!  Our history of self destruction is more  disturbing than the Great Fire itself.

Nice pix and postal history recap.  Thanks for posting.

mtraininjax

April 23, 2010, 12:37:44 AM
STJR - We tore down our beautiful city hall to build the library at 122 Ocean. Go figure.

LPBrennan

April 23, 2010, 01:09:02 AM
Actually, the old Armory was burned, rebuilt, and only torn down a few years ago.

mtraininjax

April 23, 2010, 01:22:03 AM
Larry - The old armory, that I know of, is still in use by the City Parks and Rec, 851 North Market Street.

LPBrennan

April 23, 2010, 01:34:56 AM
Nope- that's the NEW old armory! Like referring to the new old library... It was on Market at Forsyth. Was used as the fire safety building I think. Plain undistinguished building- had a tower before the fire. A friend remembers going to the new armory for high school graduation- 1942 or so. It was a bleeding hot evening in there!

mtraininjax

April 23, 2010, 01:44:21 AM
Larry, The city website says the following about the armory on Market Street:

The Armory Building is situated in downtown Jacksonville, at the northeast corner of State and Market Streets. Built in 1915-1916 to house the local National Guard of Florida, the three-story, Gothic-Revival style building (with basement) contained a drill hall/auditorium with a stage and balcony. Other amenities included a swimming pool, gymnasium, bowling alleys, finely appointed reception rooms, a kitchen and mess hall, along with a rifle/pistol range, a billiard/pool room, and a library. For over forty years, the building also served as the City's principal public facility for entertainment/social events, such as an address by first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, dances, boxing matches, and concerts by well-known singers. After the Guard moved to a new facility, the Department of Recreation and Public Affairs took over the building in 1973.

Yes it is quite warm inside the gym.

LPBrennan

April 23, 2010, 01:59:23 AM
Yes- that armory was built as you say:

But this is the one built prior to the Fire, destroyed except for the thick walls, and rebuilt.


There it is on the left in this post-Fire view-


Notice that the tower was originally taller. Over the years the decorative work was removed or covered over. By the time it was demolished it had no character at all.

Cliffs_Daughter

April 23, 2010, 08:44:04 AM
But now that Parks/Rec have moved their offices to City Hall, the armory stands empty.

I don't know what they're gonna do with it, but renting it out for special occasions sounds like a good idea.

mtraininjax

April 23, 2010, 09:26:01 AM
Quote
I don't know what they're gonna do with it, but renting it out for special occasions sounds like a good idea.

They already do that, but the problem is that the gym does not have air conditioning, it gets VERY HOT in there during the summer. Its a cool building, but the city has not invested in it as they did with the St. James.

LPBrennan

April 23, 2010, 07:44:02 PM
I spoke with a member of the Lee High class of 1942, and it turns out the graduation did not take place in the Armory, although previous classes had held the ceremony there. By the summer of 1942 there seemed to be other business for the Armory to deal with, so Lee's 1942 graduation was set to take place outdoors at the school. Unfortunately, the event was canceled by rain, so it was re-scheduled for a week later at the Florida Theater- to his knowledge, the only graduation hosted there up till that time. The graduates dressed in white, gowns for the girls and suits for the boys; caps and gowns were not used in high school ceremonies. (Now we use them to "graduate" from kindergarten!)

He had ushered at previous graduations at the Armory when he was a sophomore and junior. He remembered the speaker at one ceremony droned on and on and on. Someone went back of the stage where the bathrooms were and flushed a toilet. These toilets would have done Archie Bunker proud- real "thunder mugs"!- and the roaring cascade could be heard throughout the hall! The speaker got the hint and finished his his oration.

Charles Hunter

April 23, 2010, 09:37:34 PM
I think Lee graduated in white jackets and dresses through the 1960s - unique

I thought Parks and Rec moved into the Ed Ball Building, not City Hall.

stjr

April 24, 2010, 12:22:35 PM
By the summer of 1942...

Then there's that mischievous coming of age movie of the same name....  ;D

chas1445

March 20, 2011, 12:19:20 PM
This post is a year late, however, I have recently found this sight.  I do not live in Jacksonville anymore, but in reference to part of the post by OCKLAWAHA dated January 8, 2010 about the integration of the train station as we use to call it.  During WW II, and from 1940-1952 the stations waiting rooms was still segregated.  When I would go to see my grand parents, I would leave from the Colored waiting room, and when I return, I would have to wait on my mother to pick me up in the Colored waiting room.  During that time children could travel by themselves.  They would put your destination on a tag, and put it around your neck, and the conductor would see that you got off at the right place.  Example: if you were going to Macon, Georgia, the tag would read Macon, Georgia.  And the cars was still segregated.  Blacks rode in the first car behind the engine.  When I was ordered to report for duty at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina in 1952, I left from that train station, and when I returned to Jacksonville 8 years later in 1960 after my discharge, I returned to the same train station.  I returned in August 1960, a few days before the 1960 Race Riots began.

Dashing Dan

April 21, 2011, 05:52:56 PM
Here's an opening day picture of Penn Station in New York


Here's an old picture of our own Jacksonville Terminal


Nice copy, don't you think?



Especially since Penn Station in New York has been gone for almost fifty years, and our Jacksonville Terminal is still with us.

mtraininjax

April 21, 2011, 05:53:44 PM
Nice Picture!

Timkin

April 21, 2011, 05:59:18 PM
Remarkable similarity

stjr

April 30, 2011, 04:19:30 PM
The destruction of Penn Station was a major loss for New York and I am under the impression many New Yorker's greatly regret its razing.  I only wish more people in Jax kept this thought in mind as we lose, one by one, so many of our historic, uniquely Jacksonville, and irreplaceable Jax buildings.  Over time, future generations will mourn our poor stewardship, no doubt, in the same way.

Timkin

April 30, 2011, 04:37:28 PM
stjr... I wish this city had more people like you . +1,000,000

Dashing Dan

April 30, 2011, 04:45:47 PM
In Nashville it's a big deal that they have a replica of the Parthenon.  

Why not make it a big deal that Jacksonville has a replica of New York's Penn Station?

Timkin

April 30, 2011, 04:57:13 PM
FOR REAL.  When they made the ingenious decision to put Prime Osbourne Convention Center ( which admittedly beats the alternative to razing the building) They should have built the addition with some features resembling the Penn Station building.

WTF  were they thinking to raze all these beautiful pieces ?

Non-RedNeck Westsider

July 19, 2011, 11:42:28 AM
All the talk about the JRTC recently.....

fsujax

July 19, 2011, 01:40:47 PM
POCC saved our terminal. Ours is an exact replica mini Penn Station.

Jaxson

July 19, 2011, 02:03:26 PM
I like how Ock posted some pics of the station during the horrible drop ceiling days.  Are there any other pictures of the interior of the station from the 1950s until its closing in 1974?  I would love to see them...

KenFSU

July 19, 2011, 02:06:28 PM
The destruction of Penn Station was a major loss for New York and I am under the impression many New Yorker's greatly regret its razing.

I would love to see a list of the most egregious demolitions in American history. I have a feeling the old Penn Station would easily be top five.
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